Asian Heritage Month is traditionally an opportunity for Canadians to recognize the incredible contributions and achievements of people of Asian descent who have helped shape Canada. Their contributions and challenges are often overlooked in the media, schools, and other mainstream institutions, even though they make up the largest racialized community in Canada.
This year’s celebration has been overshadowed by repeated – and often violent – anti-Asian racist incidents across Canada and the rest of the world during the pandemic. Many racist attacks have been fuelled by longstanding racist stereotypes about people of Asian descent.
The horrific mass shooting in Atlanta this March is just the latest in a string of disturbing racially motivated violence in Canada and in the U.S.
In Canada specifically, there has been a sharp rise in anti-Asian hate over the past year, leaving many people afraid of doing everyday activities such as going to get groceries or even walking through the park. A new report by the Chinese Canadian National Council highlights 1,150 cases of racist attacks in Canada from March 10 to December 31, 2020. Even children and the elderly have been physically assaulted.
In Vancouver, incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes increased by over 700 per cent in 2020, while in Ottawa and Montreal, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 600 and 400 per cent, respectively. Asian women—uniquely hypersexualized and marginalized—also continue to bear the brunt of this racism and misogyny, making them more vulnerable to violence.
The recent surge in Anti-Asian hate in Canada has given rise to demands from powerful voices from people of Asian descent for the federal government to take concrete and immediate action. PSAC joins them in calling on the government to:
- Strengthen the federal government’s anti-racism strategy to include and specifically address incidents of anti-Asian racism;
- Increase funding for the Anti-Racism Secretariat to make it permanent, independent and with a focus on anti-Asian racism;
- Develop a stronger mandate to collect race-based data that is intersectional and examines subgroups within the very diverse Asian communities;
- Eliminate employment barriers for people of Asian descent to get jobs or be promoted in the federal public service, including recognition of international qualifications.
We all have a role to play in the fight against anti-Asian racism and all other forms of racism in Canada. We must take action and challenge racism when we witness it in our communities, our workplaces, our union and at home. If you need support addressing racism in your workplace, reach out to your union representative.
Celebrate the voices of people of Asian Heritage
People of Asian descent are at the forefront of addressing anti-Asian racism, including collecting and documenting the incidents of Anti-Asian racism in Canada and providing support for those who experience it.
You can play a small but vital part in the path towards dismantling systemic racism by listening to the challenges faced by people of Asian descent in Canada during our upcoming webinar and learning more about their contributions through our digital history series that will be released throughout May.
This article has also been posted on the PSAC website.